Thursday, 1 June 2017

Fare evasion on New Routemaster buses

This is going to be a controversial topic about the New Routemaster bus because of the fare evasion issue. Please bare in mind, it is not my intention to make this a political or biased article in any way. The only purpose of this article is to compile information from various sources into one article.

As I stated in one of my previous articles - I’m going to write a separate article about the New Routemaster because the people who took part in the Central London consultations, the stakeholders, raised some issues regarding the New Routemaster bus.

I will give a brief timeline about the New Routemaster project and the bendy bus withdrawal.

Back in March 2008, during the London Mayoral election, Boris Johnson vowed that if elected he would remove the bendy buses because of the fare evasion issue and launch the New Routemaster project. Then in May 2008 he was elected as the Mayor of London. The bendy buses served routes 12, 18, 25, 29, 38, 73, 149, 207, 436, 453 and Red Arrow routes 507 and 521.

January 2009, Mayor Boris Johnson announced plans to have PCSO’s (Police Community Support Officer’s) instead of conductors on the New Routemaster buses.

Then in July 2009, Bendy buses started to be withdrawn on Red Arrow route 507 and shortly afterwards on route 521.

During the bendy bus withdrawal programme, TfL issued a number of press releases about the bendy bus withdrawal over the issue of fare evasion.

No mention about fare evasion but the press release says "Londoner's voted to boot out bendy buses and their numbers in the Capital are ever decreasing."

The article mentions:

It is also estimated that moving from having bendy buses with open boarding to double-deck buses will save £550,000 a year from fare evasion on the busy route.

Once complete this is expected to deliver a significant reduction in the level of fare evasion.

On the route 38, which was converted from bendy buses to double-deck buses last year, fare evasion has fallen from 8.13 per cent in 2008/09 to 1.76 per cent since double-deck buses were introduced last November, saving £500,000 annually.

Fare evasion on London's bus network in 2009 cost in the region of £32m

The reduction in fare evasion on route 38 is comparing three quarters post conversion (November 2009, February 2010 and May 2010) to the same period the previous year (November 2008, February 2009 and May 2009)

This article also mentions the bendy bus and says:

Significant progress is being made too on the removal of bendy buses from the streets of the Capital.

From Saturday, route 18 will be operated by double-deck buses, delivering a more frequent service at peak times and weekends and improved passenger comfort with more seating.

This is the second bus route to be 'debendified' in the last month, following the route 149 that saw the bendy bus banished in favour of double decks on 16 October.

As bendy buses are removed, so too are the opportunities for fare evaders who once preyed upon theses routes.

Once all 12 routes have been converted it is estimated that fare evasion will be reduced by around £5m annually.

The article says:

The Mayor is delivering on his promise to rid the Capital of these unwanted 18-metre monstrosities.

As bendy buses are removed, so too are the opportunities for fare evaders who once preyed upon these routes.

Once all 12 routes have been converted it is estimated that fare evasion will be reduced by around £5m annually.

Also worth noting, back in November 2010, TfL did a presentation about fare evasion on bendy buses and you can view the slides here.

This article quoted the London Mayor saying:

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: 'Fare dodgers are a parasitic scourge on this city costing London millions of pounds.

'One of the reasons I was determined to rid the streets of the dreaded bendy buses was that they made it far too easy for people to avoid paying.

As our streets become bendy-free we are seeing some encouraging signs but these plain-clothed operations are a reminder to everyone using public transport that we expect them to pay their way.'

The article says:

We are removing the hardcore fare evaders favourite form of transport and we hope to see a boost to revenue on this route as a result.

Transport for London now estimates that when every bendy bus route has been converted fare evasion will be cut by around £7.4m a year.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: 'These ginormous machines are far more suited to the wide open vista of a Scandinavian airport than London's narrow streets and I am delighted that another London bus route has seen the back of them. Equally pleasing is that we are removing the hardcore fare evaders favourite form of transport and we hope to see a boost to revenue on this route as a result.'

TfL issues a press release giving an update regarding the bendy bus withdrawal:

The final bus will leave London in December and now Transport for London (TfL) has revealed its latest financial calculations estimate that when all 12 routes are converted it will save more than £7m a year thanks to the anticipated reduction in fare evasion.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: 'More than two thirds of these cumbersome machines have now been banished from the Capital with the remainder departing by the end of the year.

'They were never suited to London's narrow thoroughfares and with their departure fare dodgers are now left with no place to hide.

'Even better we are getting some truly clean, green machines out there that are less polluting than their predecessors.'

A breakdown of the financial impact of removing bendy buses from London released today shows that when every bendy bus route has been converted there will be an annual saving of around £7.1m due to a vastly reduced rate of fare evasion on these routes.

The end is nearly nigh for the cumbersome bendy bus with the removal of these beasts from another bus route.

Huge reduction in fare evasion expected to deliver Londoners better value.

A new milestone will be reached today (Saturday 5 November) in the Mayor's campaign to rid London's streets of bendy buses, as route 12 is replaced with double-decker buses.

With only three bendy routes remaining, the target to banish these vehicles by the end of the year is well in sight.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: 'The end is nearly nigh for the cumbersome bendy bus with the removal of these beasts from another bus route.

'I know Londoners will be as thrilled as I am to see the back of these monstrous machines that block and clog the arteries of the city.

'Not only this, but post-bendy bus routes see reduced fare evasion and cleaner buses too.'

Recent figures published by TfL show that by removing all bendy buses from London's streets there will be an annual saving of more than £7m due to a vastly reduced rate of fare evasion on these routes.

When all bendy buses are removed from London's streets, TfL estimates that there will be an annual saving to Londoners of more than £7m due to a vastly reduced rate of fare evasion on these routes.

A one-off cost of £2.2m will be incurred this year in respect of routes 29 and 207, where the conversions are happening in advance of the operating contracts being retendered. However there is a substantial overall saving to TfL because as a slight increase in contract costs is more than offset by an expected reduction in fare evasion, following the conversion of all 12 articulated routes, of £7.4m per year

When all bendy buses are removed from London's streets, TfL estimates that there will be an annual saving to Londoners of more than £7m due to a vastly reduced rate of fare evasion on these routes.

There is a substantial overall saving to TfL because a slight increase in contract costs is more than offset by an expected reduction in fare evasion, following the conversion of all 12 articulated routes, of £7.4m per year

Then in late February 2012 as the New Routemaster prototypes commenced service on route 38, on the Designed for Londoners (New Bus for London) promotional leaflet, it said:

Oyster card holders can use any of the three doors to board and must touch in immediately using nearby readers. Cash fares, where accepted, must be paid to the driver. Passengers with any other pre-paid ticket or travel card, must also use the front door and show these to the driver.

Conductors will be on hand to supervise the safe operation of the rear platform. They will also help those with impaired mobility and provide journey information. The conductor will not collect fares, check passes or validate Oyster cards.

Then on 3rd May 2012, Boris Johnson won his second term as Mayor which secured the rollout of 600 New Routemaster buses which he approved in September 2012. According to the press release it says “The operational life of the New Bus for London is 14 years in service in London.”

I found a couple of consultation reports which showed concerns about the New Routemaster bus…

Taking a look at the Consultation Report
for proposed changes to bus routes EL1 and 387:
Only one stakeholder commented on the consultation which says “Concern: Use of new Routemaster buses less safe for passengers.”

Then looking at the Consultation Report for Proposed changes to buses in Central London

Scrolling down to Negative Comments/Oppose section of the General comments:

9 commented: New routemasters allow people to enter through back without swiping on

2 commented: New routemasters too hot in summer

Then looking through the Mayor’s question on the Greater London Assembly website – and again, without trying to score political capital, I’m merely showing what was said by the Greater London Authority (which is responsible for TfL) about the New Routemaster and the fare evasion on London Buses.

These were the answers from the former Mayor, Boris Johnson.

18th June 2008 - 2008/0985 - New Routemasters

Roger Evans

Will you also ensure in the design of the bus which is to replace the bendy bus that fare evasion is addressed as a priority because, of course, the existing bendy buses became known as free buses; nobody paid. If you address fare evasion not only will you improve the design but you will actually recoup some money back as well and may be able to afford some of the extra bells and whistles that Darren wants.

The Mayor

Exactly, Roger. As everybody knows, or should know, the cost of fare evasion in this city, on the bendy bus alone, is £10 million a year. I think that is a very, very modest estimate and a grossly optimistic estimate in view of what everybody will have observed when they get on a bendy bus. I do think we can do much, much better and the money saved thereby is of course available for investment in new generation buses.

Joanne McCartney

At the last Mayor's Question Time you said that you would put conductors but they would not be traditional conductors taking fares, they would be there to help people on and off the bus. Can I ask how you can reconcile those two things and cut down on the fare evasion point that Roger Evans mentioned if your new generation Routemaster will be a hop on hop off and you are not going to have anyone there checking fares?

The Mayor

Joanne, as you know, the vast majority of fares are now collected by means of the Oyster so the idea of people going round with a machine and going, 'Ching ching, fares please' is over.

Joanne McCartney

But that was one of your criticisms of the bendy bus; that it was high on fare evasion. I am just wondering how you are going to design your new Routemaster if you are having a hop on/hop off yet your new conductors are not going to have fares' responsibility?

The Mayor

OK, it is a good question. I suppose, in my imagination, I envisage that these people on the buses would play an important role in making sure that people swiped on correctly and did not diddle us all. How about that?

Joanne McCartney

So they will have responsibility for fares?

The Mayor

Yes, but I do not think it has been suggested that they should be collecting fares; they are invigilating.

Joanne McCartney

At the last Mayor's Question Time you indicated that these staff would purely be there to help passengers on and off with luggage. Now you are saying they are going to be enforcement conductors?

The Mayor

I would have to look at exactly what you claim I said in the last Mayor's Question Time. The important role that they will fulfil is ensuring bus safety and I hope it is not unreasonable that they should also make sure that people swipe on with their Oyster card and do not diddle the system.

27 January 2010 - 2010/0127 - New Routemaster for London

Main question

Caroline Pidgeon

In light of the news that the much anticipated Wrightbus Routemaster Bus could be in service from 2011, can you confirm that there will be conductors (as well as drivers of course) at all times on the bus?


The Mayor

Although the New Bus for London will have an open-back platform for hopping on and off during daytime operation, the new design will enable this area to be closed off to allow flexibility during less busy times, such as at night. The second crew member will only be present to supervise boarding and alighting when the rear platform is open. When the rear platform is 'closed' there will still be a driver operated door meaning the bus will always have three entrances.

9 June 2010 - 2010/1932 - New Routemaster Bus for London

Caroline Pidgeon

What is the defined role of the second operator's duties?


The Mayor

The role of the second crew member is not yet fully defined, but will primarily be focussed on security and the safety of passengers boarding and alighting at the open platform.

25 January 2012 - 2012/0295 - New Bus For London

Main question

Caroline Pidgeon

How do you plan to tackle fare evasion on the new bus for London?


The Mayor

TfL will require all Oyster card holders to touch in on the New Bus for London (as opposed to those with just pay as you go cards). This in itself will reduce the perception of fare evasion on the vehicle and will limit the potential for 'copy cat' behaviour - one of the issues on the bendy buses.

TfL will monitor evasion rates closely on the initial batch of vehicles, and will develop a revenue protection strategy on the basis of the observed trends.

22 February 2012 - 2012/0430 - Fare evasion

Main question

Caroline Pidgeon

You have repeatedly claimed that fare evasion on the bendy bus was costing TfL £7.4m a year. Could you please explain how you have arrived at this figure?


The Mayor

In response to previous questions, I have set out estimated trends in total fares evasion on each of the transport modes - buses, trams, London Underground, DLR etc.

In the case of buses, these estimates are built up from surveys carried out across a representative sample of the routes that make up the bus network.

The total figure for bus fare evasion in 2010, as previously reported, was some £40m.

A disproportionate amount of this loss - over a third or £15m - was incurred on the bendy bus routes.

The £7.4m figure quoted is TfL's best estimate of how much revenue will be recovered as these routes switch to more conventional forms of bus operation.

20 June 2012 - 2012/0010 - New Bus for London

Main question

Joanne McCartney

What has Transport for London done to date to monitor the level of fare evasion on the new bus and what are the results of such monitoring? Does the level of fare evasion differ depending on whether the 'conductor' is present?


Boris Johnson (Chair, TfL) and Sir Peter Hendy (Commissioner, TfL)

TfL carries out quarterly independent surveys to investigate the level of fare evasion on the London bus network. As the new bus is rolled out, any evidence of significant trends in relation to fare evasion will be monitored and appropriate resources deployed in order to deal with it.

4 July 2012 - 2012/1931 - New Bus for London

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Finally, how are you planning on clamping down on fare evasion? Is it the case that your conductor, as it says in your leaflet, will not collect fares, check passes or validate Oyster cards?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Clearly one of the advantages of having a conductor on the bus is that it fulfils a promise made, by the previous Mayor and broken by him, to restore conductors, which we have done. It also it gives Londoners reassurance when they are travelling on a bus

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Are you reviewing whether they might collect fares?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Three, they will be able to crack down on fare evasion which has now come down, under me, to record lows largely because we got rid of the bendy bus and we will continue to drive fare evasion down, which is theft from the rest of Londoners, with the addition of these conductors.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Mr Mayor, if your new conductor does not collect fares how on earth are they going to crack down on fare evasion? It makes no sense. Thank you very much.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Because they are going to make sure that people do the right thing with their Oyster card. Of course, it makes absolutely perfect sense.

11 September 2013 - 2013/2980 - Routemaster Conductors

Main question

Valerie Shawcross

When all the new routemaster conductors are in post, how many of them will there be and what will be the total cost to TfL?


The Mayor

Written response from the Mayor

Conductors are employed by the bus operating companies and they determine the number required to cover the service specification.

This will be based on factors including shift patterns, length of working day and the mix of full and part time posts etc. The precise total number of conductors and therefore the cost cannot be given at the moment.

17 September 2014 - 2014/3221 - New Routemaster Bus One Person Operation

Main question

John Biggs

Do you remain happy that OPO is not causing difficulties for the operation of these services, in particular for customer safety and risk of crime? I am particularly anxious about the effect of open access through any of the doors, without the passive supervision that flows from walking past the driver and presenting an Oyster Card by the front door, as this was a factor in the insecurity experienced by Bendy-Bus passengers.


The Mayor

I am satisfied one-person operation works well on New Routemasters and that travel is safe and secure across the bus network on all types of double deck bus. Drivers have good visibility of passenger areas via internal mirrors, and they are in permanent radio contact with a 24/7 central control room from which they can request immediate assistance as part of a priority call system. Buses are fitted with CCTV which acts as a deterrent to crime and records digital images of all areas of the vehicle.

Crime on the bus network has continued to fall every year for the last eight years, with just 7.5 crimes per million passenger journeys in 2013/14 - down from 8.6 in 2012/13. This is less than half the crime rate in 2007/8 when levels were at a rate of 15.2 crimes per million passenger journeys. We care about every journey our passengers make, and fund a Metropolitan Police Service Safer Transport Team in every London borough to patrol the bus network, to ensure it continues to remain a safe, low crime environment.

2 July 2014 - 2014/2553 - Fare evasion

Main question

Valerie Shawcross

I was recently asked by a member of the public to put the following question to you:

"In a response to a question on 9 September 2009, you stated:

""I am sure that, given what Val has said, we will be looking at the impact on fare evasion of the replacement buses [to the bendy buses] and I will make sure that you and the Assembly have whatever data we accumulate as soon as we get it".

"In view of the fact that from casual observation, it would appear that only about 1 in 3 passengers boarding the 521 bus through the middle doors makes any attempt to present a payment card to the readers and that Revenue Protection Inspectors on that route are conspicuous by their absence, can we conclude that you have no data and are trying your best not to acquire any?"


The Mayor

We regularly collect and monitor data on fare evasion across London's buses.

Fare evasion on London Buses is monitored via a continuous independent survey, and is reported upon quarterly. The rolling 12 month average fare evasion rate across London's buses is currently 1.1 per cent, and has averaged at a similar level for the past 24 months.

TfL employs 254 Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPIs) and they regularly check all parts of London's bus network. In the past 12 months 4,929 buses on route 521 were checked and a total of 94,853 passenger tickets were inspected. As a result 160 passengers were reported for ticket irregularities and 548 passengers were issued with penalty fare notices.

It is important to note that a passenger who does not 'touch in' is not necessarily fare evading. They may be in possession of a paper ticket - which is particularly true of the route in question as many the passengers on the route 521 board after using national rail services into Waterloo and London Bridge - or they could have a season ticket on their Oystercard allowing bus travel in that zone.

15 July 2015 - 2015/2236 - New Routemasters

Main question

John Biggs

Do you have any anxieties whatsoever about revenue protection issues on the new routemaster buses where they have no conductor?


The Mayor

The latest surveys showed that the fare evasion rate on New Routemaster buses is approx 1.3 per cent which was in line with the network as a whole which averages at 1.2 per cent. Surveys incorporated New Routemaster buses operating in both crew and driver only modes.

TfL will continue to deploy staff on an intelligence-led basis to combat fare evasion.

23 July 2014 - 2013/2778 - New Bus with no conductor

Main question

John Biggs

The number 8 has been converted to a 'new bus' route, albeit with no conductors. This is true for other routes. Clearly that represents a revenue saving. My concern is that with open access through 3 entrances, the control on single person operation that is secured by all passengers being expected to walk past the driver position is lost, and that it was this absence of control that was one of the greatest perceived deficiencies of the 'Bendy-Bus'. What thought have you and TfL given to this matter?


The Mayor

Three-door operation of the vehicle and its two stair-case design is a significant advantage when it comes to clearing busy stops of passengers at rush hour. Like other vehicles in the fleet, it will be monitored for issues such as fare evasion and anti-social passenger behaviour, and if necessary revenue protection officers will be deployed to provide additional control.

16 September 2015 - 2015/2555 - New Routemaster - fare evasion rate

Main question

Stephen Knight

Further to your answer to MQ2015/2236, can you provide a breakdown of the fare evasion rate on New Routemaster buses, broken down by those operating in 'crew' and 'driver only' modes?


The Mayor

TfL carried out a further bespoke Survey on New Routemaster buses (NRM) in June 2015 which showed that the fare evasion rate on NRMs is approximately 1.9 per cent, slightly higher than the November survey result (1.3 per cent). This increase is in large part driven by the recent roll out of the NRM to new routes that have historically seen higher levels of fare evasion than the network average. TfL will continue to monitor this and will, as with wider fare evasion issues, continue to deploy officers on an intelligence-led basis and focus efforts on specific fare evasion issues as they arise.

These surveys cover NRM buses operating in both crew and driver only modes. However, TfL is planning a further bespoke survey on NRM buses in November which will provide a breakdown by those operating with customer service advisors and those without.

16 December 2015 - 2015/4152 - Increasing the Enforcement against fare evasion

Main question

Valerie Shawcross

What is the staff cost of this team?


The Mayor

The budget for frontline dedicated revenue protection for London Underground and London Buses is circa £22 million. As London Overground Rail Operations Ltd is a private company, their staff budget is not included due to commercial confidentiality.

It is important to note that London Underground and London Overground stations are all staffed and will continue to be and this forms part of the overall revenue protection activity

These questions were answered by the current Mayor Sadiq Khan.

20 July 2016 - 2016/2523 - New Routemaster

Main question

Caroline Pidgeon

Can you provide a breakdown of the fare evasion rate on New Routemaster buses, broken down by those operating in 'crew' and 'driver only' modes?


The Mayor

Londoners deserve a green, affordable and functional bus fleet, which is why I will not be making any more purchases of New Routemaster buses.

TfL completed two surveys of fare evasion rates on New Routemaster buses in November 2015 and February 2016. These showed that evasion rates average one per cent when a conductor is present and three per cent when no conductor is present. These results are broadly within the range of fare evasion results seen on the bus network as a whole, as there is a variation in evasion rates between specific routes.

The conductors on these routes have done a great job, but the New Routemaster routes that do not have conductors also operate effectively and I can no longer justify the £10m cost that could otherwise be invested in modernising the transport network. TfL is working with the bus companies to find conductors other opportunities within the transport industry so they can continue to play a part in keeping London moving

TfL estimates that the additional revenue loss based on fare evasion rates for routes without conductors would be less than £3.5m.

TfL's Revenue Protection Inspectors will continue to patrol the bus network to drive down fare evasion, decrease revenue loss, and help achieve maximum value for fare paying customers. These inspectors will continue to focus on those routes that show higher than average rates of fare evasion.

16 November 2016 - 2016/4317 - Fare evasion

Main question

Florence Eshalomi

What action will you be taking to crack down on the fare evasion across the transport network?


The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London): Thank you. When people do not pay their way, it is an insult to honest, fare paying Londoners. While fare evasion has decreased over the last decade, particularly when rail services have been transferred to TfL, it still costs over £50 million in lost revenue each year. This is money that could be invested in modernising transport and keeping fares affordable. TfL will focus its attention on tackling routes and locations where fare evasion is most prevalent.

At my request, TfL is also redoubling its efforts to drive down fare evasion across the whole of London and I am looking at new ways to tackle this problem. Since I have been Mayor, TfL has launched Operation Atlas. This is a monthly high visibility operation with officers from the Roads and Transport Police and Command to deter and detect fare evasion and other unsociable behaviour. Following a two-day operation in September, almost 12,000 more people paid for their journey. These operations will continue over the coming months.

They have also issued 40,000 penalty fares and prosecuted approximately 9,000 fare evaders and they have deployed 252 revenue protection inspectors to focus on new Routemasters. This is because the top ten worst bus routes for fare evasion are all new Routemaster services. In fact, some of the routes have double the level of fare dodging of other routes. This means, not only are these buses more expensive with the lack of air-conditioning and faulty windows, they are also the highest offenders for fare evasion on bus routes in the capital.

TfL has begun exploring how technology can be used to identify persistent fare evaders and it has started the move towards a fairer, more transparent and consistent and more efficient approach to enforcement against fare evaders. The message is clear. I am clamping down on fare evasion, especially on the new Routemaster, while also making TfL fares more affordable for everyone.

I’ve found a question from a Greater London Assembly member who asked a detailed question to the Mayor about the bendy buses which includes detailed costs of operation - you can read the answer here.

Also, you can submit a question to the London Mayor here.

I’ve also found reports from the Metropolitian Police news website of multiple cases of assault on TfL’s Revenue Protection Inspectors. According to the search results, four routes were on New Routemaster buses and one on a standard (two-door) bus, you can view the news reports here.

In a local newspaper called “Camden New Journal,” someone submitted a letter raising concerns about the fare evasion on New Routemaster buses. You can view the article here.

Routes 9, 10, 11, 24, 38 and 390 used to have conductors which enabled the rear platform to be in use. They were withdrawn on 3rd September 2016 in order to save £10 million.

According to ‘Customer Assistants’ (page 145) of the Big Red Book 2014
, the guide says: “You can help passengers validate their Oyster and contactless payment cards if they need to, although you should not validate them yourself.”
And on the ‘Key points to remember’ section (page 160,) it says Customer assistants should not validate Oyster or contactless payment cards, although you can direct people to card readers (available at all three doors) and advise passengers using ‘Saver tickets’ to see the driver”

Another issue worth mentioning is ‘all three doors opening at once.’ On section 8.5 of the NBfL Build Specification, from the New Bus for London Supply and maintenance contract document
, it states:
8.5 Driver’s Door controls

The doors shall be operated by push buttons housed on the driver’s side console. There shall be a single button which shall open all available doors, and an individual button to close each door.

And I’ve found a photo of the door control buttons inside the drivers cab which you can view here.

Back in 2015, one user from the ‘What Do They Know’ website submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to TfL regarding fare evasion on New Routemaster buses - you can read the answer from TfL here
You can view more Freedom of Information requests from TfL here and you can submit a FOI request to TfL here.

The official name for open boarding is known as Proof Of Payment. Many transport systems around the world use that type of system:

TTC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Translink, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
SFMTA, San Francisco, California, USA
RTA, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
RATP, Paris, France
Berlin, Germany
Budapest, Hungary
Tallinn, Estonia
Image source
You can see a list of transport systems which use proof of payment here
. The Federal Transit Administration, an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) talks about Proof of Payment fare collection which you can read here.

The Proof of Payment is also known as the Honour System
and in the Wikipedia article, it says:
In some places, public transport such as trains, trams and/or buses operate on an honour system called proof-of-payment. The local government authorities may find it impractical or overly expensive to install ticket-checking turnstiles at every station, and instead rely on casual human surveillance to check if all riders possess tickets. In such a system one could thus ride the train or bus without paying, and simply hope to be lucky enough to avoid a random ticket check during the trip. Such behaviour is impossible for an honour system by itself to prevent. High penalties tend to be used to offset the financial cost of non-paying riders.

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has produced a video explaining all about the Proof of Payment system.

The purpose of this article is not to give bad publicity to the New Routemaster and it’s worth noting that there are pros about the open boarding system which help reduce ‘dwell times’ at bus stops - it makes the boarding similar to the light rail and metro system as passengers can enter and exit using any door.

Red Arrow Routes 507 and 521 use open boarding but they have two doors - passengers can also board using the middle door to enter the bus. The routes used to serve articulated buses (Mercedes-Benz Citaro), the reason why TfL retained open boarding for the routes is to reduce dwell times at bus stops. This example is shown on the video below.

There are other services on the TfL network which use the Proof of Payment system. Those are Croydon Tramlink and most of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR.) - they use the Proof of Payment system as revenue inspectors and DLR customer assistants check for valid tickets and valid Oyster fares on the system.

The penalty fare for users who don’t touch in or have an invalid ticket or Oyster card will be liable to pay a penalty fare of £80. If paid before/within 21 days the fine reduces to £40. After 21 days, it will go up to £80 and you have to attend court. If you plead guilty, as well as the fine you will receive a criminal record too. Not many people know that penalty fares tend to come with a criminal record. You can read more about the prosecution here.

You can view more information about penalty fares here.

National Rail has a similar proof of payment scheme like TfL’s DLR, Tramlink and Overground. There are stations without barriers, without buildings and unstaffed where there are usually smartcard readers and ticket machines at the station. Some stations have no ticket machines so the passenger has to pay a small fee for a permit to travel ticket which provisionally allows passengers to travel on a train without incurring a penalty fare. You can read more on the National Rail penalty fares here.

Returning to the New Routemaster conductors - back in 2012 when the small number of New Routemaster (prototypes) were in service on route 38, one conductor on the video below asked a passenger to touch in with his Oyster card as he missed the Oyster reader as he was walking up to the top deck of the bus.

Wright SRM Volvo B5LHC
To conclude this article, it was not my intention to knock the New Routemaster or put the project into a bad light, I’m just highlighting the issue with open boarding for you, which happened when the bendy buses were in service. The same problem occurs with any other service and transport around the world which use the proof of payment system. The Mayor and TfL won’t be purchasing any more three-door two-staircase New Routemaster buses. The design cues of the NRM are now used on the Alexander Dennis Enviro400H City and Wright SRM (Volvo B5LH/B5LHC).
Alexander Dennis Enviro400H City

If you have any comments or feel I may have missed something out then feel free to use the comments section below.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Google Plus by searching for @CLondoner92

Related articles
Open boarding returns on Route 453 in form of New Routemasters
Failed Route tests for New Routemaster conversion
The tale of the 'open boarding buses' (Bendy Bus and New Routemaster)
Rear door modification for the New Routemaster
New Bus from Alexander Dennis (Enviro400H City)
New Routemaster project now costs over £300 million
Video: The New Routemaster rear door
Update on the new Alexander Dennis Enviro400H City
The Alexander Dennis Enviro400H City
TFL plans to extend New Routemaster fleet to 1,000!
Bus operators pay £1 per New Routemaster bus a year for rental
London Mayor confirms order to extend New Routemaster fleet to 1,000
VOSA recalls 468 New Routemasters
The Son Of (New) Routemaster with 2 doors 1 staircase!
New Routemaster, Enviro400H City & Volvo SRM comparison
£2 million higher fuel cost for New Routemasters
New Routemaster routes branded as their own network?
New Routemaster conductors to be cut
New Routemasters for East London Transit!
REVEALED Battery electric SRM (2 door New Routemaster!)
Volvo launches the B5LHC double-deck electric hybrid with SRM (2 door New Routemaster) body!
New Routemasters come to East London Transit services

Image attribution
By R Sones, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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